[-empyre-] Gün ISEA2011/ nets and networking

Renate Ferro rtf9 at cornell.edu
Mon Sep 26 01:14:03 EST 2011

Thank you Claudia for describing Arzu and your project to empyre.  I
want to thank you for forwarding me a copy of the journal that is not
only well presented and printed but also represents the rich and
diverse “net” of images and text  about these women’s lives.  I was
very interested that the very first image of the journal was indeed
one from the Seneca Falls Women's Rights National Park. For some of us
who live in upstate NY, we know how volatile the land rights claims
issue has been amongst residents within the last few years.  The
Cayuga Nation was claiming stake to about 64,000 acres of land at the
Northern end of Cayuga Lake (Cornell is situated at the Southern tip.
Ironically, Cornell University is the first Land Grant University
conceived by two NY State senators, Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson
White,  "to establish the Cornell University, and to appropriate to it
the income of the sale of public lands granted to this State." In 1868
Cornell opened with the mission to provide an education where diverse
students could learn any subject. Paradoxically, this land grant
university sits on the territory where indigenous people's once lived
but were cast off.

Just before I left for ISEA I attended the anniversary of the Akwe:
kon House which supports American Indian students by providing housing
as well as support for living and studying at Cornell.  I am
incredibly thankful to the director of the American Indian Program,
Jolene Rickard, who is not only an art curator and art historian but
is an artist who works in photography and installation.  I am thankful
that Jolene, also a member of the art and history of art faculty,
shares her knowledge about both the historical and contemporary issues
that face American Indians with all of us at Cornell. She is a network
catalyst, activating points of connection between the vast areas of
expertise that her knowledge and artistic work flows within.

 Jolene is from the Tuscarora nation settled near the Niagara River
about three hours from the University, but their nation is know for
its fishing along the Niagara River as well as the tradition of
Lacrosse.  How interesting it might be to cast the nets of Gün to
reach out to the nets of the rich traditions of the clan’s mothers of
the Tuscarora, the Iroquois, and the other nations where the Seneca
Falls Women’s Rights National Park and Cornell University are

 You project Claudia and Arzu is an important one. What a misstep of
ISEA not make reference of the Gün project but then they never did
announce our empyre get together either.  Claudia, were you able to
catch the women Turkish artists exhibition at the Istanbul modern?
Did anyone go?  I am astounded that this exhibition was not advertised
more heavily during the conference. What did the women of your project
think about that exhibition?

 I have finally recovered from jet lag after completing an 18-hour
trip back from Istanbul.  While many of the posts I have been reading
do critically look at ISEA’s financial management and structural
inconsistencies, it has occurred to me that despite those irritations,
the networking enabled by the conference in Istanbul loomed over those
irritations in the end for me.  By meeting colleagues who I rekindled
friendships with and those who I met for the first time, by attending
a few great panels, the networking boat ride, Sunday’s empyre event
that coincided with Melinda’s gallery chat, and host of other dinners
and coffees, immersed within the complexities of the expanse of
Istanbul’s culture and politics as the visa commercial claims was

 I guess my point here is that the nets of friendship and exchange,
collaboration and alliance within the cultural context of the
diversity of Istanbul was worth it.  I am hoping that over the next
week of empyre our subscribers will share with our online subscribers
a bit about the workshops, panels, papers, workshops online and the
complex richness of the culture that contained these events.
Additionally, to critically place those events and experiences within
the realities of the corporate structures and realities of ISEA and
the Istanbul biennial has made this month on empyre an interesting
one. We will continue with this discussion through the final week of
September. I invite all of you to join us.

 Renate Ferro

On Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 12:21 PM, Claudia Pederson <ccp9 at cornell.edu> wrote:
> Declaration of Sentiments/Gün: Edited and organized by Arzu Ozkal and Claudia Pederson. Contributions by Asli Akıncı Alper, Berna Ekal, Basak Senova, Burçak Bingöl, Chantal Zakari, Güneli Gün, Iz Öztat, Nazenin Tokusoglu, Nazmiye Halvasi, Nilbar Guures, Meltem Isık, Övül Durmusoglu, Özlem Özkal
> Info on the project at: http://contrary.info/g.n/
> Declaration of Sentiments/Gün book was presented
> September 13-15, 2011, at Gallery 5533, Istanbul
> September 16, Gün meeting including collaborators and ISEA guests.
> September 17, 2011
> Short: Circuit - Cross Border Communications in New Media Between US and Turkey
> chaired by Patrick Lichty
> with Ali Miharbi, Eden Ünlüata, Claudia Pederson, Burak Arikan, Iz Öztat, Chantal Zakari
> Sabancı Center, Levent campus, Room 3
> September 18, 2011
> 1:00 - 2:30 pm
> Mind The Gap panel discussion with
> Kerry Doyle, Karin Hansson, Chantal Zakari, Claudia Costa Pederson, Arzu Ozkal, The WRMC Collaborative
> moderated by Alexia Mellor
> Sabancı University, Levent campus, Room 4
> The project is a collaboration between 16 Turkish women (I'm the exception) working in the fields of journalism, political activism, music, visual arts, performance, literature, and electronic media. Collaborators are based in the United States, Europe, and Turkey. In concept and form Gün is a network. Gün is a Turkish word meaning day and referencing women-only groups, part of social relations in Turkey and today among the diasporas. The gün takes many forms, usually consisting of a group of women friends taking turns hosting these gatherings in their homes, which take place weekly or monthly and serve as a time/space devoted to plesurable exchanges between women, involving food, conversation, games, crafts, gossip, and sometimes money. In short, güns are forms of networks specific to gendered spaces within Turkish culture. The project began a year ago in response to this year's ISEA's location in Istanbul and theme of “networking.” The concept places a focus on the etymology of the concept of network as materials and systems fashioned “in the manner of a net,” thus emphacizing interrelations and connections. In practice, the work involves online exchanges between participants, with each woman contributing work related to the gün as a social/cultural form-- a handle for research into the ideas, conditions, and aspirations framing the positions of women in Turkey and Turkish women living and working abroad. Some of the participants involved met in Istanbul to discuss the book and its next phase. Some of the women attending ISEA from Australia, Britain, and Canada came to the event to share their work with women in their own practice. As it now stands, the work included in the gün reflects the specificity of its network form as a site of individual/social formation historically evolving with notions of femininity and feminism specific to Turkish women. Many of the contributions speak of the hybridity and contrasting nature of these notions in today's Turkish culture as both sources of ambivalence and pride, as well as reflect on notions of feminism specific to countries where many of the women participants reside. For instance, the book begins with a visit to the Women's Rights National Park at Seneca Falls near the Wesleyan chapel where the declaration of women's rights was discussed and formally adopted in 1848. The site of the museum in upstate New York is part of the former Iroquois territory that included what is today upstate and central New York. Needless to say, this event is internationally known and cherished among feminists the world over. We note the museum's ommition of the influence of the Iroquois nation on women's rights. Feminists involved in the drafting of the Declaration of Sentiments were aware of the social, cultural, and political standing of Iroquois women, which they cited as a model for their vision of an egalitarian society. Iroquois women had the right to elect the chief and to speak on political matters, including war, enjoyed religious rights, the right over property, the right to divorce, as well as the right to her children, who traced their lineage through the mother. Feminists discussed the equal standing of women within the Iroquois six nations in magazines and newspapers, regularly citing the superiority of “savage law” over English law adopted by the former colonized North Americans, which denied women all rights and consequently brought on regressive impact on Iroquois women. The disappearance of any mention of this in feminist histories is attributed to the movement's conservative turn calculated as a means to attain the right to vote. In the book, parallels are drawn with the development of Turkish feminism emerging in the modern era with the rise of the republic and state feminism.
> The project is in process, with a planned bilingual book, which will be expanded to address issues and questions raised at the meeting in Istanbul. We will be uploading part of the existing documentation to the project's website shortly, and keep you posted.
> A side note on ISEA and the Gün: Because the women involved in the project are familiar with the 'guarded' spaces of Turkish universities, we decided beforehand to meet outside of ISEA, as not all the women would be able to attend because they wouldn't be registered for the conference. Because of this ISEA ommited any reference to the Gün Workshop in its catalogue, without any consultation. In addition, we requested and were promised a table at the conference to display and distribute the book to ISEA participants, which failed to materialize. Most of all, we regret not being able to engage students.
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Renate Ferro
Visiting Assistant Professor of Art
Cornell University
Department of Art, Tjaden Hall Office #420
Ithaca, NY  14853
Email:   <rtf9 at cornell.edu>
URL:  http://www.renateferro.net
Lab:  http://www.tinkerfactory.net

Managing Co-moderator of -empyre- soft skinned space

Art Editor, diacritics

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